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ARE YOU WORKING? IF SO, ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS?

If you are working, according to SSA’s definition of work, you are not eligible for disability benefits. However, work has a very specific definition under SSA’s rules. Work is defined by the SSA as “substantial gainful activity.”(SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment- related workexpenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. Under SSA’s disability provisions, a person who is engaging in SGA is not eligible for payment of disability benefits.

SUBSTANTIAL GAINFUL ACTIVITY OR “WORK”

SGA is defines work as “doing significant physical or mental activities . . . for pay or profit. . . .” “Significant activities” are useful in the accomplishment of a job and have economic value. Work may be substantial even if it is performed on a part-time basis, or even if the individual does less, is paid less, or has less responsibility than in previous work. Work activity by an employee is gainful if it is the kind of work usually done for pay, whether in-cash or in-kind. Activities such as self-care, household tasks, unpaid training, hobbies, therapy, school attendance, clubs, social programs, are not generally considered to be SGA.

CHART DEFINING SGA

Below, please find a chart that defines the monthly amount of money you can earn in any given year before the SGA definition applies. As you can see, there is a difference between those who are blind and those who are not blind. Also, the SGA amount is your gross earnings per month. This means before taxes are taken out.

Monthly substantial gainful activity amounts by disability type
YearBlindNot blind
1976$230$230
1977240240
1978334260
1979375280
1980417300
1981459300
1982500300
1983550300
1984580300
1985610300
1986650300
1987680300
1988700300
1989740300
1990780500
1991810500
1992850500
1993880500
1994930500
1995$940$500
1996960500
19971,000500
19981,050500
19991,110700
20001,170700
20011,240740
20021,300780
20031,330800
20041,350810
20051,380830
20061,450860
20071,500900
20081,570940
20091,640980
20101,6401,000
20111,6401,000
20121,6901,010
20131,7401,040
20141,8001,070
2015$1,820$1,090
20161,8201,130
20171,9501,170
20181,9701,180
20192,0401,220
20202,1101,260

Many people think they can work and get disability benefits. This is simply not true. The SSA has a specific amount of money that you can earn on a monthly basis and if you earn over that amount, you are working SGA. Therefore, you cannot receive disability benefits. People who are working and also claiming a disability check are committing fraud.

WORKING AND APPLYING FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS

If you try to work and you earn under the SGA amount or your work doesn’t last more than a few months, you can still apply for disability benefits. Some people try to work despite their severe disability. Working a few hours a week should not hurt your chances in receiving benefits. Most people with a mental or physical disability find that they cannot work on a full-time or even a part-time basis. That is why they are applying for disability benefits. Disability benefits replace monthly income.

At our office, we help our clients apply for benefits and we appeal SSA’s denials. If you need to apply for disability benefits, you can do so online at ssa.gov. It doesn’t matter where you live in the country, the above table applies to you. If you live in Utah, Nevada, or California, the same amount of money in the above table defines SGA. This is true even if the cost of living is higher in California than Nevada.

If you have questions about work and disability benefits, contact our office. We will answer your questions for free. If you need disability benefits, SSD or SSI, then contact Cannon Disability Law. We will help you apply for benefits or appeal a denial for benefits from the SSA. You can contact us by phone or by email. We can often answer your questions about working and disability benefits over the phone. Give us a call today and let us be part of your disability team.

 

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